"Humph!" muttered Juan Can, more consequential and overbearing than ever, for this year of absolute control of the estate. "Humph! that's all you know. A good thing the Senora died when she did, I can tell you! We'd never have seen the Senorita back here else; I can tell you that, my man! And for my part, I'd much rather be under Senor Felipe and the Senorita than under the Senora, peace to her ashes! She had her day. They can have theirs now."
When these loving and excited retainers saw Ramona -- pale, but with her own old smile on her face -- coming towards them with her babe in her arms, they broke into wild cheering, and there was not a dry eye in the group.
Singling out old Marda by a glance, Ramona held out the baby towards her, and said in her old gentle, affectionate voice, "I am sure you will love my baby, Marda!"
"Senorita! Senorita! God bless you, Senorita!" they cried; and closed up their ranks around the baby, touching her, praising her, handing her from one to another.
Ramona stood for a few seconds watching them; then she said, "Give her to me, Marda. I will myself carry her into the house;" and she moved toward the inner door.
"This way, dear; this way," cried Felipe. "It is Father Salvierderra's room I ordered to be prepared for you, because it is so sunny for the baby!"
"Thanks, kind Felipe!" cried Ramona, and her eyes said more than her words. She knew he had divined the one thing she had most dreaded in returning,-- the crossing again the threshold of her own room. It would be long now before she would enter that room. Perhaps she would never enter it. How tender and wise of Felipe!
Yes; Felipe was both tender and wise, now. How long would the wisdom hold the tenderness in leash, as he day after day looked upon the face of this beautiful woman,-- so much more beautiful now than she had been before her marriage, that Felipe sometimes, as he gazed at her, thought her changed even in feature? But in this very change lay a spell which would for a long time surround her, and set her as apart from lover's thoughts as if she were guarded by a cordon of viewless spirits. There was a rapt look of holy communion on her face, which made itself felt by the dullest perception, and sometimes overawed even where it attracted. It was the same thing which Aunt Ri had felt, and formulated in her own humorous fashion. But old Marda put it better, when, one day, in reply to a half-terrified, low-whispered suggestion of Juan Can, to the effect that it was "a great pity that Senor Felipe hadn't married the Senorita years ago,-- what if he were to do it yet?" she said, also under her breath. "It is my opinion he'd as soon think of Saint Catharine herself! Not but that it would be a great thing if it could be!"